Not your average surge skeptic, either. He’s the trump card that was played by the nutroots last year after Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack came back from Iraq touting progress and Cordesman, who was along on the same trip, said he didn’t see jack. He sees it now:
No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. A combination of the surge, improved win and hold tactics, the tribal uprising in Anbar and other provinces, the Sadr ceasefire, and major advances in the use of IS&R have transformed the battle against Al Qaida in Iraq. If the US provides sustained support to the Iraqi government — in security, governance, and development — there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state…
[I]t is clear that Iraq can only succeed with years of additional US support in security, governance, and development. The progress in 2008 and 2009 cannot be decisive or irreversible. It will take strong US involvement throughout the life of the next Administration to succeed, and it may well take US aid through 2016. There is a strong case for limiting troop reductions beyond a force of 15 brigade equivalents to patient conditions-based steps that ensure there will be no need to rush back US forces or see Iraqi forces become vulnerable. There is an even stronger case for sustained aid in governance and development until the Iraqi central government learns how to spend effectively and do so with limits to waste, corruption, and ethno-sectarian bias.
Petraeus gave him 50 pages of statistics to support the conclusions; the graph of Anbar violence on page 36 is especially eye-popping. To appreciate his point about a sustained occupation force — at least through 2012, which is the earliest he thinks the Iraqi army will be ready — versus a withdraw-and-target-from-afar strategy, read Totten’s analysis of the Petraeus strategy in Iraq versus the failed Israeli strategy in fighting Hezbollah. Senator Hopeandchange prefers one to the other. Guess which.
And in the same vein, here’s Maverick on Larry King wondering why the left is so chill about occupying Japan for 63 years.